Bradley Cooper makes the transition from actor to filmmaker with his directorial debut A Star is Born, the latest incarnation of a musical romance fable that has spanned generations of cinema. As well as directing and producing, Cooper also stars as Jackson Maine, a heavy-drinking rock musician. After stumbling into a drag bar after one of his many sell-out shows, he meets aspiring singer Ally (Lady Gaga) and the pair bond over song writing and their desire to have their voices heard. The chance encounter marks the beginning of Ally’s rise to fame and Jackson’s downward spiral.
The movie begins on the stage, giving interesting backstage insight into Jackson’s world as he stares out to thousands of adorning faces in the crowd. The performance scenes are pretty good and as a platform for the original music, the film works. As a sweeping tear-jerking romance, it certainly does not. The cringeworthy script is eyeroll-inducing as the leads come together to embark on their toxic relationship after Jackon’s somewhat creepy pursuit of his newly discovered muse. Ally, who is established in the first instance as a strong-willed and independent character, buckles to Jackson’s so-called charm at the drop of a Stetson, no matter how out of control he becomes.
Whilst playing at being a rockstar, Bradley Cooper reaches high for the arc from loveable rogue to tortured soul, delivering drivel dialogue in a gravelly voice that imitates Kris Kristofferson’s 1976 version of the self-destructive protagonist. I really struggled to connect with the character and found him to be a loathsome lothario and increasingly irritating throughout his decline. Lady Gaga holds her own as an actress in her first major movie role and is expectedly brilliant in the singing sequences.
A Star is Born is a charmless vanity project from Bradley Cooper that does little more than showcase the already globally established musical talent of Lady Gaga. She is as powerful as ever and now has an impactful voice in cinema, but she’s already released Bad Romance. Nobody needed another one.